Monday, September 23, 2019

Caribou Creek Cabin Trip (Nabesna Road, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve)

Awesome weekend with Michael Mathers and Sam Bishop. We hiked into the Caribou Creek Cabin off the Nabesna Road in Wrangell St. Elias. The cabin is only 3 miles from the road on a good trail. We spent Sunday doing a circumnavigation of the ridge surrounding the cabin. Awesome weather, awesome views. Absolutely amazing weekend. On the way home we stopped at the Eagle Trail State Recreation Site and hiked to another gorgeous overlook. We live in an incredible state!

The Caribou Creek Trailhead.

The first part of this 3-mile trail is easy peasy. The trail had been damaged by ATV use, so 
the park service is armoring it with gravel.

You cross Caribou Creek after a couple of miles. 

A muddier portion of the trail. 

The cabin sits at brushline in the Caribou Creek valley.

Corrine snuck up behind Sam and gave him a start!

View from the outhouse!

An evening hike was steep! But most everything around the cabin is steep.
(See the ridge behind? We went up that the next morning.)
The next morning we headed up the ridge to the west of the cabin. 
Attaining the ridge-line made things a little easier.
The weather was gorgeous!
Ridge hiking in Alaska is a favored activity!
We eventually stopped for lunch and a rest.
Friends, hiking, and great views! What could be better?!
How about a dose of silliness?!
A flat spot on the ridge.
And then the final descent to the cabin. (See it way down there?)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Biking the Back Way to Hutlinana Hot Springs

Who knew you could bike to Hutlinana Hot Springs?! I always thought it was a hike through boggy trails or a ski in the winter.  

Our friend Brian told us there was a back way to get in on old mining roads and that it was bikeable. He sent us a GPX track. Eric and I decided to find out if it really was bikeable with a quick overnight micro-adventure.  We left home Saturday afternoon and got home Sunday by dinner time. 

It WAS all bikeable. There were several creek crossings but only 2 that I had to walk. I did walk down and up one steep loose gravelly section but otherwise it was 11 bikeable miles to the hot springs with 1400 feet elevation gain. Great trail, great weather, awesome hot springs. 

Nice four-wheeler trail. Colors a bit past prime but sunny skies both days.

There were some steep areas but all doable, 
even on a loaded bike. This was near the start.

Riding through a burn area

Pushing up a steep section

Bikeable stream crossing

More bikeable stream crossings. We criss-crossed this stream 3 times!

Next to last stream crossing on the way to the hot springs. 
This one was a bit too deep to try and ride. About knee deep. And cold!

Last stream crossing.  You can see the hot springs and it's full of leaves.  I stepped in to warm up my feet immediately after crossing the stream.

After a soak and dinner we went for a hike.  We followed the other trail for a ways and then bushwhacked uphill to get a view.

Nice views from up high but there was some bushwhacking 

I did have a little adventure later that night.  I was sitting in the hot springs alone after dark watching the moon rise and warming up to go to bed. Eric was already in the tent and didn't want to soak one more time.  While I was enjoying my soak, I heard some splashing in the creek.  It was dark so I couldn't see anything but it sounded like something fairly big.  I started yelling thinking it was probably a moose.  Instead a black bear came running out of the creek, literally 5 FEET FROM ME and headed up the hill. He stopped somewhere uphill of me and started growling. I had no idea how close or far he was from me.

And of course I had left the bear spray at the tent! I yelled for Eric and he came, but by then the bear had continued up and over the hill. I felt a little vulnerable sitting naked in a hot spring in the dark with no bear spray!  I grabbed some rocks to throw just in case the bear came back wanting to share the hot springs with me.  Luckily he didn't.  I think the bear was just as startled as I was.  That was pretty much our only wildlife sighting except for lots of grouse.

Nice camp site. I'm walking toward the hot springs pool.

The next morning we woke up to temperatures below freezing.
A bit of frost on everything!

It was a bit chilly crossing the streams in sandals but we quickly warmed up once we started biking. It didn't take too long to get back to our car. Then just 3 hours to get back home.

Eric about to get cold feet crossing the creek

Nice trails for biking

I would totally recommend this bike adventure to anybody wanting a quick get away to an amazing hot springs.  Note - we did have to clean out the hot springs of algae and leaves before soaking.

The white line is the Elliott Highway. We started just up the turnoff to Eureka.